This is not a provocative blog. I don’t have the energy or thinking-space for this. But it is a point of interest, in the light of the various #womensed blogs and chats I’ve followed of late, and in the light of the soul-searching I’ve barely started upon.
I’m saying goodbye to a cohort of colleagues and students this week. This is extremely hard. Much harder than I might have anticipated, and I’ve had to steel myself on numerous occasions. Colleagues who’ve inspired me, made me proud and supported me are very hard to say goodbye to.
And, whilst an early lesson was that, really, no one is indispensable – it’s the best job in the world, but it is, in the end, a job – saying goodbye to students has tested me close to my limits. These are young people whom I’ve seen truly grow, in every sense. I’ve been with them on the journey through rage, strops, resignation, defiance and triumph. I’ve been pelted by paper snowballs (someone on Twitter was responsible for that lesson idea – I wish I could remember who!), stood on chairs and yelled ‘les feculents’ in a creative attempt to help them remember the French word for ‘starches’ (if only it had come up in the exam), mopped up tears, dismissed tantrums, encouraged, cajoled, and briskly forced students beyond their self-imposed boundaries…
‘Why?’ is the question I hear the most. Why am I leaving? These are questions I will only answer with those closest to me, so I go for answers which, whilst not being untrue, are easy to understand.
The simplest of all, and the one which both colleagues and students are quickest to understand: to spend more time with my family.
The second: to return to my studies.
[By way of context, it is to go to a mixture of doctoral study, freelance work and part-time middle leadership.]
But it is with the first that I receive the most eager and understanding nods of the head. Of course. The pressures of a mother and a senior leader. Time goes so fast. Your children must come first. Your husband is so busy. Life is short. Yes, of course, we understand.
And in many ways, life really does come down to this. But in many others, I’m wondering whether, as a woman, a passionate teacher and – yes – a passionate and ambitious leader – it can only come to this.
In the words which drive my husband mad, only time will tell.